My last post in December was Pictures from my Kufri and Shimla trip. That time I had promised to come up with a detailed account of the trip. Then it was long back and I really had no plans to write about the trip now. But a promise is a promise – and here is the account of the trip; but it will not be as detailed as my last posts.
Kufri was suggested by Cuckoo. She did an off-topic post just to inform me about Kufri, an hour ahead of Shimla. I had never seen snow fall in my life (that wish of mine is still unfulfilled) and Kufri suited my bill – I would be able to visit within two days.
And the two days was the weekend that fell after Christmas. My brother and I left for Shimla on the night of 26th. The HRTC bus that we boarded from Kashmere Gate ISBT entered Shimla at around 7 o’ clock in the morning – could have reached a little earlier had the driver not stopped for tea breaks after every half an hour.
Nothing much about the bus journey other than the freezing cold and the fighting that ensued between me and brother for the blanket.
As soon as we deboarded at Lakkad Bazar, Shimla, touts gheraoed us with hotel offers. As I have learnt from my last trips, I didn’t give in to their offers. Instead I went on to find hotels on my own. But having checked a few hotels with “no rooms sign” and my body needing rest badly, I finally called upon a tout who was still following us.
He took us to Hotel Prince, just above Rivoli theatre (a fraction of Delhi’s PVR Rivoli). The thing I most disliked here were the slopes. Anywhere you want to go, you have to walk up and up and up. The hotel too was located some 20 steps above ground.
But once we finalised a room, I ran up the stairs to occupy the bed. Before sleeping, I had put an alarm for 9 o’clock. We were so tired that none of us heard the alarm until it went off for the fourth time.
I didn’t want to get off the cozy bed. But then we had to go to Kufri and time was less.
We had already decided against bathing. So we got ready in no time. Outside the hotel there was biting cold. But we were well equipped with sweaters, jackets, caps, gloves, shoes – so much that it was difficult to walk with the weight.
The hotel manager insisted on a cab service they provided up to Kufri. But I decided to do a cross check with the local market- made a saving of Rs. 250.
The Maruti Alto that was to take us to Kufri would come in an hour or so; Why don’t we go sightseeing at Shimla? In fact, until we saw Shimla, we were of the view that the prime attraction here is Kufri.
The Mall Road was great. It was quite sunny here (as can be seen in the pictures). For the first time I felt some warmth and decided to part with the gloves. We roamed around the Mall Road and appreciated the crowd and went half way to Jakhu Mandir (since the cab-wallah had promised to arrange the cab in an hour, we decided to leave Jakhu temple half way up the ascent). Then had a sumptous lunch at one of the restaurants there.
But the cab didn’t come until 2 o’clock in the afternoon. When we complained about the delay, the driver smiled sheepishly.
On the way we saw green valley which was view of a valley with greenery all around.
We reached Kufri in some half an hour. The cab dropped us at a place from where horses were the only motorable transport service available.
Horses! We didn’t opt for them (ponies are distant cousins of horses) on the long trek to Vaishno Devi. Will we opt for them now? Depends on how far is our destination from this place. No one was ready to part with that information. Also none of the tourists were seen walking on his own. Finally convinced that Kufri is a far off place and horses are the only mode of transport, we arranged for two – Bunty, the bigger one for brother; and Bubbly, the smaller one for me.
But that burnt a hole in our pockets by Rs. 500. In fact the entire Kufri trip was a loss.
Kufri had no snow. Bu hu hu hu.
And once that was known, none of us had the inclination to enjoy. Sitting there for around an hour, we finally decided to roam around, until our horses are back. Our horses were drawn by a small pahadi boy called Ramcharan (He earned a meagre Rs. 50 per day). He assured us that he would be back by 4 o’clock in the evening.
But we weren’t enjoying a bit. Snow was nowhere to be seen except for the Kinnaur range, some hundreds kilometres away. And that added to our woes.
Finally, I began searching for our horses. I called up the thekedar, only to get the assurance that the boy will reach by half an hour (each and every thekedar had a mobile phone to track the horses).
Half an hour passed and the boy was still not back. Several calls to the thekedar and the same assurance. Each horse boy looked like our Ramcharan but no one was ready to ferry us back. It was 5 o’clock when we decided to walk back.
At times when there is no snow, you can walk over the place. But beware the horses who are walking the same road. The road has not been cut well. At some places, it gets too narrow and if you are walking through the middle of the road, you may get sandwiched between two horses and you can get badly hurt if you get caught between their hoofs. You can also trek.
Before coming back to where our cab was parked, we gave the driver a call, only to know that he has gone down for some repair work. He assured us that he will be back within ten minutes.
We also spotted the thekedar arranging horses for other tourists. When we complained about the absent horses, he gave a sheepish smile. This had me. I gave him a big lecture about customer service, which impressed him little since he was off to arrange horses.
It was more than ten minutes but the cab driver wasn’t still back. When we called him again, he said that he is caught in a traffic jam and would take ten minutes more.
It was getting dark and the people were going back. Even horses had called the day off. The thekedars were discussing the days revenue while sipping tea.
And here were the two of us, with very little warm clothes. As it had become hot outside, we left our jackets in the car. Now I was ruing over my folly. The cold was biting my body. When tea wasn’t able to warm me, I sat along with some horse-men to warm myself besides the bonfire.
The cab came at 6.30 in the evening. Frustrated I scolded the driver badly. But as my body was getting warm, my eyes closed and I slept for a while.
We were dropped near to Mall Road. We had decided to eat something before going back to the hotel. Had a sumptous non-veg dinner again at Alfa Restaurant on the Mall Road. The food is good and also the ambience.
You can buy some very good wood work at Shimla. I purchased few jewllery boxes, a pen stand, a statue of Lord Buddha, and several other items, all made of wood. For my mother, I also purchased a Book Stand to read Ramayan (Now that she is a grandmother, she has taken to the ways of elderly people).
Mall Road is more beautiful at night. Couples roamed around chatting and giggling. A women was selling hand woven shoes for kids. I bought one for my niece.
We too roamed there for some more time. Then we went down to our hotel room. The manager greeted us with a smile. I didn’t reply when he asked about our Kufri trip. “Couldn’t he have said that Kufri has no snow today” was my grouse.
I couldn’t wait to attack the bed after this hectic a day. With our heads inside our rajais, we talked about the day and its attractions and disappointments. I don’t remember who stopped responding first.
My eyes opened at 9 o’clock. I had never slept this long. I woke up brother and we started jotting our plan for the day.
We will hit the Mall road first and then we will decide.
We did the same. Jakhu Mandir was visited. But before that was breakfast. We were not to go inside the temple anyways (two days without bath). Finally at 4.30 in the evening we caught the bus back to Delhi.
Later that week, we were discussing the trip. “No snow biggest disappointment”, both of us agreed. “Not that bad”, we both agreed. “In fact a refreshing trip”, we agreed on this readily.
Hey 15oo words and I promised that it will not be a very long post. Sach me kitna vella hun main.